Trenton is flat broke. The city is looking at a significant budget deficit and the administration has asked all departments to cut their budgets by 10%.
But when is the administration going to tighten its fiscal belt?
We talk about maybe having to charge to use city pools next summer; furloughing police dogs; and possibly closing libraries. But there is never a mention of the administration cutting back on its expenditures.
For instance, this item from Thursday’s council docket:
5lr - RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT THROUGH A FAIR AND OPEN PROCESS IN ACCORDANCE WITH N.J.S.A. 19:44A-20.5 ET. SEQ. TO JOSEPH A. ALACQUA, ESQUIRE, 112 JOHNSON ROAD, TURNERSVILLE, NEW JERSEY 08012 TO PROVIDE PROFESSIONAL LEGAL SERVICES REGARDING MUNICIPAL LAW. (In an amount not to exceed $95,000)
For those who haven’t been following this, Mr. Alacqua serves as “special counsel” to the city, providing legal advice and guidance. Mr. Alacqua is in attendance at most City Council meetings as is the City Attorney, Ms. Denise Lyles.
Why, you might reasonably ask, do we need a “special counsel” at $95,000 per year when we have a City Attorney and legal staff who is already on the city payroll and who are city residents?
Blogger Greg Forester has addressed this several times, most recently here. As he points out, Mr. Alacqua is not the only attorney handling legal work for the city via special services contract. Just look at the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent with outside law firms to fight the Santiago residency case…tax dollars spent to argue both sides of the case!!!!
(Note: as this is written, word is coming in that the judges ruled 3-0 against the former police director).
Now what if we took some of that money going outside the city for special services contracts and put it into keeping our library’s open (read the Times article on this).
Or what if we applied that money to the recreation department budget so the parks can be better maintained?
You get the point. How far could we go cutting the administration’s expenditures before we need to reduce city services in order to balance the budget? Shouldn’t we be looking there first?
We at the stoop join in Chrissie’s call for city council to vote “no” for this expenditure. Let’s hope the thinking members of city council choose to vote against resolution 5 lr and start us on the road to real fiscal responsibility.
As a bonus…let’s stop hitting up corporations for sponsorships of the failing Heritage Days and the alleged Trenton “Jazz Festival” and instead put that money to work keeping our libraries open. At least until we get a new, higher functioning library board that finds ways to augment the city’s contribution to it’s operating expenses.